When Senator Warren tested Facebook's ad policies by intentionally lying in a political ad, the company did nothing but repeat their line that it wouldn't be the arbiter of truth when it comes to political ads posted on its platform.
Adriel Hampton, a political activist from California decided to take things further, so he registered as a candidate in the 2022 gubernatorial election with the specific goal to run false ads on Facebook on his own. He wants to test the limits of how much misinformation he can spread on President Trump, executives like Mark Zuckerberg, and other high profile personalities before Facebook will decide fact-checking should also be applied to what politicians post on the platform.
Hampton says he also plans to target Twitter executives, as the company has a similarly lax policy that it applies on tweets from politicians. It's worth noting that unlike Facebook, Twitter is looking for ways to distinguish political discourse that breaks its community rules by using special labels. Whether that has anything to do with its financial situation is anyone's guess, but its willingness to find solutions is better than Facebook's hard stance on an arguably broken policy.
To put things in context, Hampton is known for his Pac, the Really Online Lefty League, which recently ran an intentionally false ad that showed South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham as an ardent supporter of the Green New Deal. Facebook did eventually flag and remove the content, but that's only because the page isn't run by a politician.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his company's policy as a protection of freedom of speech, but earlier this week hundreds of employees sent him a letter asking him to make significant changes to the rules. With political ad spending estimated at $10 billion for 2020, some may argue the chances of persuading him are small, but we'll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, a survey of over 1,600 U.S. adults conducted by CivicScience has revealed that almost three out of four people want Facebook to take responsibility in fact-checking all political ads.
Image credit: Reuters